Sacramento Calif. – Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan introduced AB 2146 Tuesday to protect bees and other pollinators from five key neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides.
California beekeepers lost 41.9% of their colonies last year, one of the worst years on record. These pollinators are critical to many of California’s leading crops, worth $50 billion annually. A huge body of research links adverse health impacts and the decline in pollinator populations to the use of pesticides, particularly neonicotinoids.
“Our pollinators are threatened. We know the cause, and it’s time to take action,” said Assemblymember Bauer-Kahan. “The European Union has already banned many of these pesticides altogether, and it’s time to catch up to the rest of the world in protecting bee and human health. AB 2146 will curb harmful neonic contamination without limiting farmers.”
Specifically, AB 2146 bans the use of imidacloprid, clothianidin, thiamethoxam, dinotefuran and acetamiprid on non-agricultural crops. Neonicotinoids are the world’s most widely used insecticides and are incredibly toxic to pollinators—just one square foot of grass treated with a typical neonic lawn product can contain enough neonics to kill one million bees. Most of the chemicals, however, stay in the soil, where they remain for years and are easily carried by rain or lawn watering.
“Bees, butterflies and birds all play a critical role in the web of life – from pollinating the flowering plants that make up much of the food we eat to filling our world with beauty and wonder,” said Laura Deehan, state director at Environment California. “The drastic decline in their numbers is disturbing and calls for immediate action. Getting rid of neonics on lawns, gardens and golf courses would provide a lifeline to pollinators and other key species just in the nick of time.”
European honeybees aren’t the only bees harmed by neonics. California is home to more native bee species than any state in the U.S., creatures that move between our plants and wild spaces. “The health of plants and pollinators is inseparable, especially in California, where we have globally rare species,” said Andrea Williams, director of Biodiversity Initiatives for the California Native Plant Society. “We thank Asm. Bauer-Kahan for introducing this important bill to help protect the vital relationships that sustain our state’s biodiversity.”
Most he uses of neonics in non-agricultural settings is completely unnecessary, yet they are incredibly widespread. Monitoring by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) detected imidacloprid—the most common neonic in non-agricultural settings—in 92% of water samples taken in Southern California’s urban areas and 58% of Northern California’s urban samples. Animal studies have connected neonics to reproductive harms, reduced thyroid function, increased offspring mortality, and other damaging health effects. We can avoid these impacts by simply eliminating neonic use. Nevertheless, the private sector has taken little action without legal restrictions.
“Neonics are disastrous for the environment. They pollute whole ecosystems, killing off bees, other insects, and the many species that depend on them,” said Lucas Rhoads, staff attorney with NRDC’s Pollinator Initiative. “California can take a leading role in curbing neonic contamination, and AB 2146 would help the state do just that.”
AB 2146 is co-authored by Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose).